Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Making Art out of Words - the easy way

Here is a simple, free app that I know my students are going to love experimenting with, given its immediacy and knock-out end result.

www.wordle.net is a piece of sheer brilliance. Add text, or link to a website/blog, and Wordle transforms this into an instant Java based text mashup. There are plenty of options to play around with, including a range of cool fonts, text layouts and colour combinations. 

Showing is often better than telling, so here are some results: my Delicious social bookmarking entries (a nice word cloud above), the opening to the Aeneid, and some of my poems. I've also begun to play around with simple aphorisms, and that's going to be an ongoing experiment. If  you click on any of the images they'll take you to my space on Flickr. Click on the 'All Sizes' option above each image and you'll be able to see a larger version.

The more times you repeat a word the more prominent it becomes. Cut and pasting can produce some interesting results. There's a lot that can be done with this nifty piece of software. Enjoy.

A New Year, a new nomination

Hello and welcome back. I hope you've all had a restful and peaceful festive break.

Now that my mind has returned to matters media and educational, I'm delighted to tell you that my friend David Dunkley-Gyimah has been nominated by the We Media Foundation as one of the top 35 digital media innovators in the world.

You can read an article by David for the foundation here.

David has had an unusual media upbringing and his many years of hard graft and continual quest to understand, predict and innovate in the digital sphere is bringing him his just rewards. He's worked in Ghana, South Africa, with Janet Street-Porter in the early days of revolutionary youth TV (Reportage), he was an original videojournalist in the UK at Channel One (where we worked together), and now is a senior lecturer in digital journalism at the University of Westminster. Incidentally, his academic background is in applied chemistry!

His online magazine, View Magazine, is as he describes it, 'my digital playground, where new ideas can be explored.' It's very much worth a look. 

When I spoke to David yesterday he was pointing me towards some great sites that are exploring where the next generation of digital journalism and storytelling are heading. The links are below. Both of them are worth investigating, not only for their intrinsic worth, but for the possibilities they suggest for technology-enhanced learning at the secondary school level. 

National Film Board of Canada Film maker in Residence. This shows what can be done by ordinary people when they're empowered with multimedia tools.

Multimedia Shooter.  A fantastic site that aggregates some of the best digital story telling around.