Tag Archives: The UpTake

Armchair Learning – Click and Learn from Massive Media Archives

Life… It tends to respond to our outlook, to shape itself to meet our expectations — Richard M. DeVos

The agenda of go-to opportunities scheduled for Older Americans Month is robust and welcome – learning opportunities abound – to learn from the experts, to share ideas, join a spa, to take a class or participate in a conference. The focus and the effort are to be lauded!

Still, seniors who yearn to learn often encounter barriers – money for tuition, fees or registration, physical limitations, lack of transportation, time commitments.   As a long-time advocate for armchair learning I can’t let OAM pass without a pitch for just a few of my favorite online learning picks

Increasingly, digital learning could and should be the flagship of lifelong learning. Though there’s lots of buzz about distance learning for young learners or as a cost-effective way to build a trained workforce, we tend to overlook the fact that lifelong learning is a certain investment in a full, rich, mentally and physically healthy life for older Americans, a learning life of ideas, opinions, information and memories and curiosity about life, the university and everything.

My concern is that too many of us, including lifelong learning proponents who push keyboarding skills, undervalue the potential of 21st Century access to the expanse and power of resources waiting to be tapped by seekers of knowledge or entertainment. Judging by promotion of the virtues of digital skills one might conclude that, for older techies, the primary applications are email, shopping, sports, and sharing progeny photos.

In fact, armchair learning opens the mind to endless possibilities. My goal in the OAM posts is to raise expectations – learners’ expectations of the abundance of recorded knowledge and techie trainers’ expectations of the learning horizons of seniors.

Though my skills are limited, my searching style is random and my fuse is short, I have faith that the Net is as patient as it is bountiful. That bounty includes – and is clearly not limited to — massive libraries of programming that began life as broadcast or cable television or radio. Many of us still think of mass media as being “of the moment”, unaware of the vaults of learning possibilities waiting to be clicked. The myth persists that you need to view or record the program as it is aired. Patently no longer true.

Because my quest to learn leans to independent, unscheduled, free and open (read armchair) learning I am currently poking around the staggering mix of digital libraries devoted to archiving and extending the life of broadcast/cablecast media – documentaries, informed discussions, book talks, interviews – all searchable and viewable online.

For me, radio rules. That may be because I learn by listening – and I’m probably not armchair bound but more likely doing boring chores while I make room and time for the information and ideas to sink in.   Still, doodling and knitting do improve focus.

For example, listening to Krista Tippett early on Sunday morning is a ritual; the On Being website and blog keep rattling around my head during the week. And if I oversleep or need a refresher listen it’s archived here:

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/381444594/krista-tippett-on-being http://www.onbeing.org/about.

Similarly, most public radio programming is posted, cataloged, annotated almost as soon as it is aired. A ready point of access is NPR inclusive site (http://streema.com/radios/NPR_National_Public_Radio). It’s just a click to listen to archived treasures including All Things Considered, Fresh Air Radio, Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, The Diane Rehm Show, Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me Weekend — and a whole lot more – from wherever and whenever. For a lighter touch click on the digital replay of This American Life with Ira Glass – wouldn’t this be a good time to take a fun break at http://video.newyorker.com/watch/new-yorker-cover-mirror — or to reflect on the Bob Edwards’ wise words, as apt today as when the were recorded http://www.bobedwardsradio.com

Though radio’s great TV is not without its charms. In fact, yesterday’s television programming excels as an untapped learning resource. The wealth of video options on the web is staggering – random, but immense. Virtually every producer maintains an archive and search tools. It’s important to underscore that many of these programs are captioned. Readily accessible video vaults abound, including these, the tip of the digital iceberg:

Access to archived mass media is an obvious starting point for the armchair learner – the idea is to dive in, to eke the most out of the techie tools, to expect success.

Stay tuned for future armchair learning possibilities, starting with the inestimable resources produced, collected, organized, preserved and delivered to your armchair by government workers who share your vision of a learning democracy.

 

 

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Sunshine Week 2016 – A heritage of openness and challenge to take a lead

Sunshine Week 2016 (March 13-19) spurs more than the usual reflection this year.  Over the years I’ve written countless words about the idea of the people’s right to know – this year seems like a chance to think more than write. The mass confusion in which this democracy is embroiled seems too often at odds with the informed democracy our forefathers envisioned.

The recent death of Martin Olav Sabo brings back thoughts of Minnesota’s open government heritage of which he was a powerful and visionary leader for many decades. Just today I received an email from Mike McIntee, long-time leader of The UpTake. Mike suggests that reflections on Sabo’s legacy will be inspired by this video which The UpTake produced almost a decade ago. I agree. I watched and remembered. http://theuptake.org/2016/03/13/longtime-minnesota-congressman-martin-sabo-dies-at-78/

The beautiful video he shared gives me pause and hope. I’m thinking  others might have the same reaction. It’s an oral history of the Minnesota Legislature as members have worked across the aisle to think through the issues and do the good work of governing our state. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have. Viewing and thinking about the ideas shared here seem an appropriate tribute to Martin Olav Sabo – and the best possible way to celebrate Sunshine Week.

A good news note is that Mike McIntee and The UpTake are being honored as recipient of this year’s John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award sponsored by the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information. The award will be presented at their Sunshine Week event on Wednesday, March 16, Noon at the Minneapolis Central Library. The work of The UpTake (http://theuptake.org) is under-recognized; my hope is that this overdue recognition helps Minnesotans understand the power and influence of this unique and powerful resource.

On a contemporary note, Star Tribune columnist James Shiffer offers a great list of FOI issues that need tending to by today’s Minnesotans. Find today’s Sunshine Week column here: http://startribune.com/on-sunshine-week-how-we-can-brighten-our-public-life/371887941/.  Emphasis for Sunshine Week 2016 is on passage of and improvement of the Freedom of Information Act, signed on July 4, 1996 by LBJ;  the roots of that monumental legislation are evident in the initiatives of progressive Minnesota legislators, including Martin Olav Sabo. Minnesotans  need to be engaged in adapting that 50 year old legislation to the reality of the day.  We need to think as Sabo did about the public good and the future of the democracy.

Kudos to The Uptake

Kudos to The Uptake.  As some 42,000 contributed $8 million to Minnesota nonprofits, the Uptake covered it all – not the dollars but the stories of the nonprofits that will use those $8 million to improve the lives of Minnesotans.  Hour after hour nonprofit representatives described their organization, the services, the needs, and the specific ways in which the contributed dollars will make a difference. The result was a powerful – and persuasive — parade of needs and of capable and committed community leaders with ideas, energy and focus.  Totally hooked on the audio stream, I listened to dozens of interviews, many with leaders of organizations of which I knew little or nothing. Though technological gaffes probably left the crews with headaches I found them charming and humanizing.

 

My sole regret as I listened to one after another interview and organizational promo was that I’d tapped out my ability to send another donation.  Still, The Uptake’s coverage expands my awareness of the depth and breadth of the resources we have, as told by the people who spot the needs, design the strategies and do the work in the field.  That includes The Uptake, a unique player in Minnesota’s panoply of nonprofits.

The UpTake Journalists Banned in Edina!

The intrepid crew from The Uptake hit its first bump in the transparency world this week when the Edina Chamber of Commerce banned all video and audio recording from Wednesday’s debate between candidates Erik Paulsen and Jim Meffert.  Not a major hurdle for the folks from The Update who have covered and shared a daunting roster of candidate forums, debates, town meetings and more during campaign 2010.

 

When the dust settles it will be interesting to learn just how many miles they’ve covered, camera in hand – From the Clinton visit to Blaine and Obama’s U of M appearance over last weekend to La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles in South Minneapolis, Farm Fest, the rambunctious Oberstar/Cravaak debate in Duluth and scores of other sites.  The Uptake crew covers the event live if possible, then records and posts the full program on The Uptake website.  They even offer fact check back up that is endlessly illuminating.

 

Today, Tuesday, The Uptake provides live coverage of the much-vaunted debate between Michele Bachmann and Tarryl Clark taking place in St. Cloud.  The enterprising Uptakers suggest that viewers watch the debate live from home or office, then contribute the cost of the gas saved to The Uptake.

 

At this point in the campaign every Minnesotan is burned out on sound bites and TV spots well-funded by a mix of vested interests.  The would-be informed voter might do well to take a breath, settle into an easy chair, and take time to view and listen to the candidates themselves – uninterrupted, on the spot, recorded by The Uptake.

 

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MN Broadband Summit – An Eyewitness Account

The 2010 Minnesota Broadband Summit breathed life into the reality and the future of broadband, not as an end but as a means – a means to economic development, of course, but more important, as a means to creating a state in which a Minnesota resident can live a rich live in a community with the tools of access to health care, civic engagement, lifelong learning, arts and culture. As convener and host, Senator Amy Klobuchar outlined the complex issues inherent in assuring access to high-speed broadband for all Minnesotans.  Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications, the regulatory agency responsible for telecommunications development, outlined the challenges he and members of a divided Commission face.

The intent was for the decision-makers from inside the DC Beltway to join an energetic and committed audience in learning from a truly fine panel of informed Minnesota leaders with unique perspectives on and experience with broadband.  Emphasis was on Minnesotans who are out of the loop because of geography, awareness, digital literacy or cost.

My original intent was to summarize the summit.  Even as I sorted through my notes and my reflections those who are more nimble and better equipped accomplished just that.  TheUpTake posted the video of the full summit on their site.  Blandin Foundation, which has taken the broadband lead in Greater Minnesota, has posted a virtual transcript of the proceedings.

What remains is to internalize and reflect.  Some thoughts:

  • Seldom have I heard a panel provide as much relevant, targeted and specialized information – I doubt that I have ever heard this much data, personal experience and vision delivered within the strict time limits dictated by the venue.  To a person, the spokespersons were “way above average.
  • Attendees included access leaders and visionaries who have been tilling the telecommunications turf for decades. For many present there was an “it’s about time” response. This cohort shares an implicit sense that there is a role for government to regulate (as well as fund) broadband development.
  • Along these lines, the panel touched on social issues generally absent from today’s politics.  They described with clarity specific strategies to ease or eliminate barriers, beginning with but not limited to geographic realities
  • Bruce Kerfoot. President and owner of the Gunflint Lodge, spoke for panelists and audience alike when he reminded the Senator and FCC chair that “the people on the end of the wires aren’t stupid.  We’re ready to roll and we have folks who want to be online.  We just need to be unified in our efforts to get heard.”
  • A consistent theme was collaboration broadly defined.   Kerfoot emphasized that Minnesota communities “just need to be unified in our efforts to get heard.”  Pam Lehmann, Executive Director of the Lac qui Parle County Development Authority, described how collaboration paid off for people in her county to apply where a Computer Commuter mobile tech lab was launched the following day.  More information on a StarTribune piece is available on Lac qui Parle’s site here.
  • Richard (Dick) King, CEO at Thomson Reuters, stressed that “people need to visualize themselves using technology. Stressing the imperative of public-private collaboration, King ticked off the reasons Thomson Reuters cares about broadband:  “We care because of our employees – we’d like for them to be able to work from home.  We’d like to bring other tech companies into the area.  Business needs a continuity plan — if something happens in the office, we still need to be able to carry on.  We need competition and redundancy.”
  • Engagement of local elected officials and decision-makers is a must, according to the panelists. A unified approach demands that local leaders are both informed and involved.
  • Panelists stressed that collaboration means public-private partnerships that are both essential and slow to nurture.  Speakers described in concrete terms the ways that the private sector, whether Thomson Reuter or Gunflint Lodge, depends on access and on collaborative efforts to promote a broadly-defined vision. Pam Lehmann, ED of the Pac qui Parle County EDA, described her county’s collaborative efforts and her vision of the impact of resulting federal funds on her community – proudly reminding the audience that the next day would see the launch of the Computer Commuter tech lab to spread digital literacy throughout the region.
  • Though the front-burner issue of net neutrality received modest attention, the implication was that this had been well addressed in the recent Net Neutrality town hall meeting chaired by Senator Al Franken.
  • Throughout the discussion the reality of cost was implicit.  Still it neither dominated nor stymied discussion which remained more on shared vision and possibilities.  The clear focus was on what was repeatedly described as a “win-win” approach.

In his introductory remarks Chairman Genachowski reminded attendees that, urgent as the issue, it’s not priority #1 with most people or their elected representatives.  His words seemed to me a hint, if not a clarion call, to those assembled to roll up our virtual sleeves.

The awesome volunteers and staff at the UpTake recorded Senator Amy Klobuchar’s remarks.

The FCC is Having a Public Hearing in MN Thursday Evening

Once again The UpTake steps to the plate!  The UpTake crew, mostly volunteers, will be on hand Thursday evening when media moguls, access advocates, journalists, librarians, entrepreneurs, and information mavens of every stripe —  just about anybody who has dipped a toe into the digital world – will gather for a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) public hearing on the future of the Internet.  The hearing is Thursday, August 19, 6:00 p.m. in the South High School Auditorium, 3131 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

What’s well publicized are the details of the unique hearing  featuring FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn along with locals including i Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and other speakers TBA.  Not so well publicized is the fact that The UpTake will be on site.  TheUpTake will provide live broadcast and will also video the entire event. You can catch the hearing in real time or at your leisure – when the kids go to bed or you get off work.

The hearing is hosted by three national organizations, i.e. Free Press, Main Street Project, and the Center for Media Justice. Through their Media Action Grassroots Project (MAG-net). These are among the national organizations that have lobbied long and hard on a host of pressing issues, most notably network neutrality and broadband access.  The premise of the TC’s hearing is that the big guys have had their say and that the Commission needs to hear from the rest of us.  The fact that Minnesota’s junior Senator has become the poster child for these progressive groups may have influenced the designation of Minneapolis as the one and only Greater-US hearing.

By way of introduction, the Uptake is currently providing great background material, including an overview of the hearing, a talk presented earlier this summer by Commissioner Copps, and an interview with Senator Al Franken, a vocal advocate for network neutrality and access.  You’ll find them all on the Uptake website.