Googly Moogly, Neighbor!

I do not work for, or get renumeration from, Google. Not that I’d turn it down, mind you, but so far they haven’t called me. (*checking voice mail*.)

However, let me just state for the record that I’ve been a Google fan since, back in 1999 or 2000, my friend Spooner said, “Hey, you gotta check this new search engine out…it’s got a ‘I’m feeling lucky’ feature!” And it was bright and clean. And then the doodles started. And then, in 2005, the best things since sliced bread (and sports bras): Gmail.  I got my first invitation from a discussion board friend in New York with whom we were staying during a fourteen-state-plus-Canada road trip. I had goosebumps after he showed me what it could do.

My next epiphany, being a travel AND cartography nut, was, of course, Google Earth. I still can spend hours “traveling” via the program. I don’t know how I ever lived without it.

Following, of course, has been Google docs, bookmarks, reader…everything that keeps my life interesting, handy, portable, neat, and organized.

I’m now up to four gmail accounts.   Yes, yes, I know…the features are so good I could just use one and keep things separate.  However, with privacy issues and whatnot, I maintain four.  One for my general, every day stuff.  One that used to be just for family but is now my professional account.  One I keep just to catch the detritus from facebook (and perhaps another site or two that generate a lot of stuff I don’t want to deal with). And now, as of yesterday?  After years of wanting this but getting no traction? An official WORK GMAIL ACCOUNT.

Woot!

My new district has gone to the undark side (still, cookies) and is using google apps, and I’m the owner of a brand new work-sanctioned gmail account AND Google Sites.  I’m so giddy, I’m seeing in primary colors.

This also means I spent about eight hours yesterday (yes, you read that correctly) setting it up, importing bookmarks and sharing between my accounts, setting up two Google Plus accounts (one associated with my regular life and one professional, although this latter cannot be tied to my new work mail because profiles aren’t allowed, for some reason), and starting on Sites for my homepage and classes (although I’ll have Moodle2, as well…oh, will the fun never END?!?)

I’m aware that amongst those reading this, and even within my own circles (common parlance, in this case, and not Google Plus speak), those individuals who would find such tasks as…dare I say…”onerous.”  I do not understand these people. I had a fantastic day yesterday, playing around with new tools, getting my feet wet with Google Plus, jumping in with the Sites wiki-based platform, networking and coordinating and sharing Google docs between accounts. I have chosen themes to accompany each account and its newly-focused task. I am using the new Gmail template (clean and bright and wonderful) for one of them. I have downloaded the G-Whizz! app for my iPod. I have added gplus.to shortened URLs to my accounts, and added one to my LinkedIn. I have done twitter searches on new features.

I have experienced bliss.

I accept Google as my new overlords, and not just because Neil Gaiman’s son works for them, and despite their possibly being evil on one or two occasions. Long live the blue, red, green, and yellow!

Google Love

Google Love

We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.*

Boing Boing (and Xeni and Cory) has long been one of my favorite daily stops in the corner of the web where design, geekdom, politics, freedom of speech, cute animals, and computers hang out and have adult beverages together. It’s kind of like taking a walk through one’s favorite boho University neighborhood–if it were filled with hackers‘ nooks, steampunk, and used bookstores.

Fairly often, I find something there that I bring to the attention of students, especially when I’m discussing Creative Commons or Lawrence Lessig (or, of course, using Doctorow’s writings in class). And, even though today is in July and I won’t be in front of students until September, one of the finds on Boing Boing today immediately suggested a fabulous first-week-of-school project, perfect for a teacher new to the district who doesn’t know any of the kids.

Boing Boing has a contest for desiging the most boring magazine cover.

The Winning Entry, from Boing Boing dot net

The Winning Entry, from Boing Boing dot net

While I don’t think my upcoming students are boring–far from it–the whole idea of using design and rhetoric (with a healthy dose of humor and pastiche) appeals to me.  I’ve been thinking of ways that I could get to know my students (and they, me) quickly and in fun, that will also incorporate writing and thinking.  This is perfect.

My students do not yet know it–or, well, *me*–but they will be designing their own magazine covers for *themselves*. Not only will I get to know them by the real magazine they might choose (I suspect I’ll see a lot of Seventeen and Sports Illustrated parodies, but who knows), but how they choose to portray themselves.  How they write headlines. What design choices they might make.  What *materials* they choose (as I often do, I’ll leave the digital vs. hard copy up to them, I believe). It will tell me a lot about who the individuals are in front of me, and a lot of what makes them tick (and how they write and complete projects).

It will also provide me with something to hang  up on my massive, bare white walls, right away at the beginning of the first quarter!

My New Classroom

My New Classroom

I’m very excited. And yes, I’ll be having to create my own, of course…I suspect I’ll be using Mother Jones or Smithsonian or Discover for mine.  This. Will. Be. Fun.

Thanks, Boing Boing!

*From John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, of course…wanted to use the “demented and sad, but social” line, but that was a bit insulting…