6 days ago

Delight 17: New Tech

I still remember the first time I used a digital camera. A Sony Mavica with a floppy disk for storage. The ability to take a photo, insert a disk into your computer and be able to view the image was magic. From the time I began my journey with educational technology in the late 1990s until my first iPhone in 2008, I had so many of these moments of magic. Building my first website, making and editing video, video conferencing, publishing tools, blogs and early social media were examples of new and shiny tools and software that captured my imagination and opened my eyes to endless possibilities, joy and yes even delight.

Then things plateaued. Not that tech was stagnant but I now lived in a world where I expected things to change and improve. As an early adopter to so many tools I also began to see that for all the new technology we were given, it wasn’t making the difference in our lives I had once hoped it would. Add to that the growth of mobile technologies in particular and its impact on our attention seemed to diminish many of the really powerful things that computers can do and instead had us focused on amusing ourselves to death once more.

But the pandemic had me dive deep into some new software and tools that are reigniting that delight I experienced over a decade ago. Largely an effort for me to up my virtual presenting game I began to consider how I might make my presentations more engaging and fun. Previously I never really had a dedicated office space so I began with setting up 2 monitors and dusting off my old snowball microphone. Then I remembered you could use your DSLR as a webcam so I pulled out my Canon Ti3 Rebel and set it up on a tripod. That already made quite a difference. I purchased a green screen but didn’t really like it much so I set it aside.

The first real delight was when I discovered OBS. Watching Mike Wesch play with it inspired me to give it a go. Knowing that like many software programs it had way more potential than I would need, Wesch showed how to get started and find early success. I played with it, set it aside for a few weeks and brought it back out again when I switched from using a Mac to a Dell. As an aside, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at transitioning to Windows after over 15 years as a Mac user. It’s been quite smooth. Still a few things I miss but not as I would have imagined. Anyway, OBS allowed me to take greater control of how and what I was able to share virutally.

Next as I revisited my interest in Podcasting, I needed to edit videos. While I had learned to make iMovie do as much and more than I needed I wanted to try sticking with Windows. I recall the days of using Movie Maker then graduating to Premiere before jumping over to the Mac where I used Final Cut and iMovie. Once again Michael Wesch pointed me to another free software Da Vinci Resolve. It is way more powerful and complicated than a basic video editor but I was game to learn. I’m still so early and doing things awkwardly but learning and it’s fun.

Finally I added a stream deck to my repertoire. This is a pretty cool little device that enables me to elegantly move between scenes and sources and do multi actions that might take many clicks with one press of a button.

As I was taking a deep dive into these new programs and tools I was reminded of the delight I used to feel and even though there was lots of frustration and failure it was fun. I hope I can continue to see the potential and possibilities in new tech like I did in the past. I know my friend George Couros is also having some similar experiences.