Friday, October 30, 2009

finding the non-Latin URL or IDN

Here is the news - ICAAN has approved Internationalized Domain Names. According to this video released today, this could be considered the most significant change on the internet in - did he say 40 years???

Here is the much proclaimed upside. People, and especially children, worldwide will be able to access the internet in their own script for the first time. This is an amazing surprise to me, since most scripts are input on the computer via the Latin alphabet in the first place. Try this Input Method Editor for Japanese. Input a meaningless string of Latin consonants and vowels to get a sense of how it works. You are inputting Latin letters, don't you think, in order to create text in Japanese.

But here is the downside. Phishing. How will you know that these two sequences are made up of different codepoints? code and cοde - two separate sequences now available for domain names. If you don't think these two are composed of different codepoints, try putting them in google. Funny - they look the same.

One thing you do not have to worry about is how you, even if you are a monolingual who only dabbles in foreign scripts, will input the required domain name. You can use an online Input Method Editor or IME. Here are a few -

Russian and others

In a matter of minutes, I was able to recreate this Chinese word 龍 with the appropriate search results.

In any case, there are dozens of these online input doohickeys, so you don't really have to worry. However, do read the comments under this post and think about it. I don't know whether it is a good thing or not.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The suicide and what was said

I don't want this post to be one more comment on this young man's life, I don't know him personally, but I do want to talk about the way he was treated.

First let me say that his funeral was attended by hundreds of people - I know the subway stop, the church, the camp, the school and many concerned. I am filled with sorrow for the parents, and for this young man.

In spite of the fact that the evidence was concerned with email messages that have not been disclosed, the newspaper reported that this young man was accused of sexual assault. What was said about him is described here. There was, in fact, no question of sexual assault or sexual touching. What we do know for sure is that the day before he took his own life, he was accused in the newspaper of doing something that he did not do.

This should be motivation for everyone to reflect on the seriousness of saying something about someone else's personal life that is not true. What disturbs me is that the bibliosphere has no censure for unjust attacks. For both Rosie DiManno and Jim West, a suicide is a guilty plea, proof of sin. Do they have any idea how helpless one feels when one is the target of a false attack?

If anyone related to this man ever googles his name, then Jim West's inflammatory headline will jump out at them and cause unnecessary pain.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Autism and baptism

Internet Monk has a post on the baptism of an autistic teenager. This is close to home for me, as I often think about how to honour the humanity of cognitively disabled children in difficult home circumstances. This leads me to reflect on my work situation for a bit.

For many years I have had the habit of organising a play or reader's theatre, and I have found that it has made room for the equal participation of special needs children of different ability levels. This year I may not be able to stage a play as my timetable is quite different and the teachers have other priorities. I feel a bit sad about that.

I have picked up quite a few tech blocks instead. While this is not at all a substitute for putting on a play, it does alter the image of working with Ms. McCarthy, the "tech teacher," rather than the "special needs" teacher.

I also hope to get back to having a group produce a class newspaper as well. Maybe I can turn my new tech blog over to some students. That would be a big help. Perhaps the newspaper itelf will be digital in format, although I would not favour a simple chronological series of posts in blog style, but something more collaborative.

The important thing about using technology in the classroom is that it always has to be a means to an end, a learning tool and not a goal in itself. Technology needs to be used in ways that enhance student agency and participation. This requires a certain level of comfort and what is called automaticity with the technical aspects, so the teacher can reflect on the intended and unintended consequences and benefits for the students of a shift in learning medium.

While technology has tended for some time to lead to social isolation and online interaction, the latest revolution, interactive whiteboards, promotes both teacher and student face-to-face learning and student interaction and turn-taking. This technology favours the development of the collective rather than the individual. For the first time, web learning and design, or the production of online document and files, can become a social and shared task, rather than a socially isolated task.

I have come a long way from autism and baptism, but the common thread is the opportunity to integrate everyone into the activities of the group.